New Hall of Famers

 

big-52

Recognize anyone in this lineup? ***

 It’s that time of year again. No, you did not forget your significant other’s birthday. It’s more important than that. 400+ baseball writers choose ball players to enter Baseball’s Hall of Fame. It is not easy to gain entrance. Like Sally Field, they have to like you…really like you. 75% of the writers have to put your name on a ballot. Less than that, you will have to wait until next year’s voting, unless you get less than 5% of the vote. If so, you don’t another try. There were 34 candidates for admission this year. Only 3 of them got a high enough percentage of votes (75%) to be placed in the Hall. They were:

bagwell

Jeff Bagwell (86.2%). He could get on base (3,843 times by hit, walk, or HBP) and hit for power (969 extra base hits). He produced a ton of runs (over 1,500 runs scored and over 1,500 driven in). And then there was his performance in 1994. He was the National League’s MVP, won a Gold Glove for his fielding, led the league in runs scored, runs batted in, total bases, and had a batting average of .368.

timraines

Tim Raines (86.0%). He got on base by hits and walks more often than Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente or Tony Gwynn (3,935 times). He stole 808 bases (5th best all time). He had 70 or more 6 consecutive seasons, 30 or more a dozen consecutive times. His percentage of successful stolen base attempts was better than Rickey Henderson (85% to 81%) –the finest lead off hitter of all time.

irod

Ivan Rodriguez (76.0%). As a catcher, he was extremely durable (he played more games than any catcher in history: 2,543), and excelled on offence (the most hits by any catcher: 2,844), and defense (he won 13 Gold Gloves). He and Johnny Bench are the only catchers elected to the Hall of Fame on their first ballot.

Some players came very close to gaining entrance: Trevor Hoffman (74%) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.7%). Hoffman missed by 5 votes; Guerrero by 15 votes. Edgar Martinez got 58.6% of the vote. He might become the first designated hitter in the Hall. Mike Mussina got 51.8% of the votes in his first year of being eligible.

PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) continue to play a significant part in some players’ futures. Roger Clemens (54.1%) and Barry Bonds (53.8%) got more votes than in their previous four efforts. Will they continue to make progress in spite of voters’ feelings about drug use? Manny Ramirez, in his first year on the ballot, got 23.8% of the vote. He was a fine hitter, but an indifferent fielder who failed 2 drug tests. He’s got a steep climb ahead of him.

And, as usual, some players failed to get 5% of the vote. They will not be on another ballot. One of them, Jorge Posada, got only 3.8% of the vote and will disappear. It was thought he would get enough support to make more attempts at inclusion. It was not to be.

And it does not get easier. In 2018, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome will be on the ballot. In 2019, Mariano Rivera will arrive. In 2020, Derek Jeter will enter the picture. Getting into the Hall is not easy. Unless you accumulate 3,000 hits, 600 home runs, or 300 wins without medicinal assistance.

 

*** = These men are the first 5 baseball players voted into the Hall of Fame (in 1939): Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson.

 

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About rcarmean

Two things... First, why have I decided to establish this blog? I like to put essays together. I research an idea or topic looking for information, statistics, stories, quotes, pictures, etc. I enjoy the process and seeing a finished product. I’m told that as I get older, new activities can help maintain energy and keep my brain alert. In other words, I am not doing this for money or fame. Second, regarding the gentleman in the collage of pictures above...it's not me. Those are photos of Christy Mathewson. Why him? When I was young, my primary activity was being sick. It took up much of my time. Eczema (a case so bad I was written up in a medical journal showing doctors what their patients COULD look like), asthma, and allergies. You know allergies: don’t eat this, don’t wear that, and, for Heaven’s sake, don’t touch any of these things (eg, dogs, cats, horses --I only saw horses in cowboy movies and TV shows, dust, swimming pools, my brother --OK, that’s an exaggeration, Rick was a fine brother). In my spare time between doctors' appointments, pills, and ointments, baseball kept me sane. In the 1940s and 1950s, when I grew up, pro footballI and basketball had not yet become extremely popular. Baseball truly was “the national pastime.” I listened to games on the radio (remember it? TV without the picture). I read magazines, books, and newspaper accounts of games. I collected baseball cards. I learned about the game’s history, as well as present. The same with its stars. One man stood out: Christy Mathewson. He was a great pitcher for the New York Giants in the early 20th century. But there was much more to him. At a time when professional athletes made little money (yes, there was such a time) and ball players were considered on the same level as actors, artists, and prostitutes, Mathewson stood out. One of his nicknames was: “The Christian Gentleman.” Most men is baseball drank, smoked, cursed, and fought —with other players, umpires, and fans. The fights were physical, not just verbal. Mathewson did none of these things. But he earned the respect of other players who did them all. Even Ty Cobb and John McGraw. There’s more. He was a college graduate (Bucknell University) when most men were lucky to have a high school diploma. He played other sports, including pro football which you wouldn’t recognize. He was handsome. He played in New York City, then as now, the largest city in the country. Excellence and popularity there meant fame and money. He dressed well. Today, his commercials would rival LeBron’s. And, finally, a hero’s life must have tragedy. After his playing career ended, WWI arrived. He suffered from influenza and was exposed to mustard gas. Chemical warfare. His lungs were damaged and he required treatment for the rest of his life. (Like my Grandfather who also fought in The Great War.) He died in 1925. He was 45 years old. I have his picture here because you need to know more about him than me. He was what an athlete could be. Players like him and their accomplishments got me through a sickly, painful childhood and can still sustain me in difficult times. *****
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One Response to New Hall of Famers

  1. Marc Kuhn says:

    There is something wrong with the “like” function on this blog. I cannot leave a “like” no matter what I try. I think I will find it harder to leave a like here than it will be for me to make it into Baseball’s Hall of Fame!

    Like

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